Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Synopsis of Content:

A thorough exploration of what is currently known about how the human brain functions and how it drives human behavior. Based on many years of research our thinking abilities are divided into two modes: Fast and Slow, or System 1 and System 2.

System 1 operates quickly. It is also automatic, it does not require or permit reflection and protracted thought process. It functions without our even being aware of it, for the most part. System 1 is a pattern recognizer. It quickly recognizes a known pattern. For example, if I say “red, white and…” your System 1 function will instantly think “blue” as the next word, at least it will if you are American.

System 2 operates more slowly. It allocates attention to effortful mental activity, including complex calculations. If I ask you to multiply 3658 x 5.369 you will use System 2. If I ask you to create a business plan you will use System 2.

There are mental functions that System 1 does very well and some it does very poorly and some it does not do at all and the same can be said for System 2.

Because these two systems operate so differently they can have both positive and negative consequences. If you are confronted by a threat you can react quickly to defend yourself or seek safety. You need not use System 2 and contemplate all the possible options available to you – you can act swiftly. When we lived primarily in nature hunting and surviving predators this system was essential but even today it serves us well.

Consider how you drive a car. How often have you driven some distance, lost in thought about something, and not even being aware of all the actions you are taking to properly drive the car? System 1 drives the car while System 2 engages in reflective thought.

As good as System 1 is at driving and escaping saber tooth tigers it does not do so well in evaluating new and complex problems. It leads us to make assumptions (some valid and some very mistaken) and to make decisions based on those often invalid assumptions. System 1 limits our tendency to consider new ideas and question old ones.

Once we understand how the two systems work we can intentionally invoke System 2 where we need it.

What I found useful about this book:

Life is full of decision making. This book helps us understand how we make decisions and how to make them more accurately and effectively. We can understand how we make invalid assumptions and decisions. We can learn to be more accurate in our thinking when we are aware of how these two systems work.

Readability/Writing Quality:

This book is written by a scientist. Though it is aimed at a general audience it is rather dense. It requires some intense mental effort to understand, or as the author would say, it requires System 2 thinking. While it can be a bit challenging to get through the book it also conveys a great deal of information and the journey is worth the effort.

Notes on Author:

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University.

Other Books by the Author:

International Differences in Well-Being
Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment
Choices, Values and Frames
Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology
Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
Attention and Effort

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is important to understand and recognize that we think in more than one way and that on a very basic level that thinking can be divided between a fast and slow mode. Fast thinking allows us to survive and to learn skills and practice them without undue thought. Slow thinking allows to create, invent, understand and calculate.
  2. Intuition, which can serve us well in many ways, also serves us poorly in many others and should be looked upon with skepticism. It is a product of our fast thinking system which largely functions without verification and accuracy.
  3. To obtain the most from our slow thinking capacity we must put forth significant effort. We must question all assumptions and resist the easy and often erroneous conclusions that the fast thinking mind jumps to. Bearing this in mind can make us more accurate and successful in our thinking.

Publication Information:
Title and Author: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Copyright holder: © 2011 by Daniel Kahneman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Book of the month for June 2015.

Get the book here:


Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Getting Back on Track

Yehong Zhu posted 70 ideas on how to get back on track – that is how to live better – on Quora. It was then reposted on This is a fascinating list of ideas, tips, and insights. A few of them are very important. They all teach us something of value. Here are just a few examples:

3 Figure out what your values are and stick with them.

8 Trust your gut. When your spidey sense is tingling, pay close attention. Somehow it knows better than you do when something is right or wrong.

18 Whenever you can, pay it forward.

32 Work hard.

69 Life is short, and death is the great equalizer. Do everything you want to do while you can. There’s no time for anything else.

That is just a small sample. Some you will find very useful, others not so much.

Read all of Zhu’s 70 ideas here.
Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

What if You Do Not Have a Passion

The success gurus tell us every day on their blogs, their newsletters and their books that you must have a passion – an overriding complete and overwhelming passion for what you are doing with your life. It may be your job/career/profession/calling. It may be an avocation beyond your job. It may be a devotion to one’s children. Whatever it is it must be what motivates you and what gives you that sense of ultimate satisfaction in life.

You must, they say, have a passion.

I think not. It is wonderful if you do have a passion. It may even be better if you have one. It can also be worse. A passion can be so overwhelming and consuming that it does as much damage as good.

It is true that people often accomplish the impossible because of this all-consuming passion. It can give us a purpose in life that is intoxicating. But not everyone has such a passion. For many, perhaps most, life is about earning a living, paying the bills, making some progress and loving those we care about. For many their job is something they do to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.

On balance I do believe that having a passion or major purpose in life is a good thing. It gives direction. It provides focus. It energizes. Properly used and controlled it can be a very wonderful thing to have. People have accomplished so much out of their passions. Edison’s passion for invention improved the world in a thousand ways. Michael Jordan’s passion for basketball made him one of the best, if not the best player ever. Steve Jobs’ passion created the most unique technology company in the world and changed all our lives with that technology.

Passion or Purpose

It is important however to acknowledge that everyone will not have such a passion. It is unique and does not visit everyone. Many people do just fine in life without such an all-consuming passion. They succeed at their work, they raise their families and they contribute to society in all sorts of positive ways. They find contentment and even happiness without an all-consuming passion and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing inadequate about that.

I suggest that what we all do need is a sense of purpose. Like many buzzwords to day “passion” is over used. Often when the word is used people really mean a purpose. Humans do not do well without a purpose in life. A purpose may also be something we are passionate about. It may evolve into a true passion.

If you do have a passion that is great. It can be very great. But not having one is not a failure. Maybe the more important question is whether you have a sense of purpose in your life. It may be to raise your children well. It may be to be a good spouse. It may be linked to your job, career or profession. Psychological research clearly shows that people are happier, more productive and healthier if they have a sense of purpose.

We are all different and what motivates us is as unique as we are. Pursuing what is important and meaningful to us may be far more important than discovering a passion in life.

A passion is a wonderful gift we can use to achieve much. We can also achieve what we truly want in life without one. We can be happy and lead a rewarding life with a sense of purpose whether or not there is a passion.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Your Margin of Safety

There is a fundamental engineering principle that we can apply to many areas of our lives to avoid failures and enhance the chance of success. It is the margin of safety – the idea engineers use to design things to have a greater capacity than they will likely need thereby avoiding failure. Bridges are designed to carry many more thousands of pounds than vehicles will weigh. Dams are designed to hold back more water than will actually accumulate. Structures are designed to withstand more stress it is anticipated will occur.

In a recent blog post James Clear discusses this engineering concept and what happens when it fails. As an example he cites the failures of the levees during Hurricane Katrina that caused such severe flooding in New Orleans.

This principle to design things to withstand more stress than they are likely to experience is called the margin of safety. As Clear points out we can use the margin of safety in our everyday life in many ways to insure greater success and avoid the stress of failures. Clear provides some excellent examples of this in his post but there is one that I use all the time in time management. Always allow more time than you think you will need to avoid being late or missing an appointment. I see people missing or showing up late for appointments all the time. On rare occasion that is unavoidable. Something happens we could not begin to predict. But most of the time people are late because they did not prepare in advance, they did not leave early enough, they did not allow enough time to get where they need to be.

As an example Google Maps tells me it will take one hour and 23 minutes to get the airport from my home. I know from experience however that traffic snarls will often require more time than that. I always allow at least two full hours to get there. If I get there a few minutes early there is no problem. If traffic is bad I may just get there in time. I build in a margin of safety. I am not stressed and I am not late.

I am generally a risk averse. I try to minimize risk. I understand that those who love to take risk may scoff at this idea and may leave at the last possible moment. If that is the way you like to live that is fine. But if you like to reduce stress and be on time allow extra time to get where you are going.

Similar margins of safety can be utilized in your finances, investing, project management and most anything you do. Over engineer your life a bit and it will reduce stress and you will meet your deadlines and get there on time with what you need.

Read the rest of Clear’s post here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne – Subtitle: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

Synopsis of Content:

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey published his now famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 2015 three influential executives at Franklin Covey, published this book, The 5 Choices, to take up where Covey left off over 25 years ago.

The 5 Choices focuses on the management of Decision Making, Attention Management and Energy Management on a personal level. Just as Covey sought to provide solutions for business people who were becoming overwhelmed with the demands of work and other life obligations these authors have sought to bring those ideas into the 21st Century. They begin with the assumption that today’s world is more complex, busier, more demanding and more distracting than the world of the 1980s. Among the causes of this greater complexity and distraction are all the digital intrusions and tools that exist today. This book seeks to help us manage those digital intrusions and tools so we can achieve more and be less harried and chaotic in the process.

The book is divided into four main sections: Decision Management, Attention Management, Energy Management and finally Being a Q2 Leader. Each of the three first sections contains subsections which constitute the 5 Choices as follows:

Decision Management:

  1. Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent
  2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Attention Management:

  1. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Schedule the Gravel
  2. Rule Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

Energy Management:

  1. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

Choices 1, 3 and 5 are straight out of Covey’s play book. However they are not simply a repeat of the 1989 book. They develop the concepts to a higher level than Covey’s book did and they have updated them to be more relevant to the current world and especially to today’s technology. Choices 2 and 4 are completely new ideas though they too have their roots in Covey’s work. It includes useful ideas on how to manage social media and email and how to avoid those technologies from burying us.

The entire book is built around the Time Matrix that Covey taught about. This concept was not actually invented by Covey, it was invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower and before Covey’s book was called the Eisenhower Box.

The Time Matrix is a tool used to divide all our tasks and activities into four quadrants: Q1 – Urgent and Important; Q2 – Not Urgent and Important; Q3 – Urgent and Not Important; and Q4 – Neither Urgent or Important. The goal is to focus as much time and energy on Q2 activities so as to minimize Q1 and Q3 activities and to get rid of Q4 activity altogether.

What I found useful about this book:

This book takes a fresh look at much of what Covey wrote about and makes it more relevant to the 21st century. The ideas surrounding Q2 activity especially are more helpful and more well developed than anything I’ve seen in this area since 1989.

Equally useful and insightful are the parts that address how to manage technology and make it serve us rather than allow us to serve it. I highly recommend this book.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written and well organized. It is easy to read. The authors build upon more basic concepts and develop them more intensely.

Notes on Author:

Kory Kogon is an executive at Franklin Covey with a lot of experience in management, productivity, and communications.

Adam Merrill is vice president for Innovations at Franklin Covey and has worked in the time management and productivity fields for 25 years.

Leena Rinne is a senior consultant with Franklin Covey with 15 years’ experience in international business. She specializes in client relationship management.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Time and Energy devoted to Q2 activities makes us more productive, focused and capable. It allows us to direct our lives and prevents external forces from controlling us.
  1. The more we can avoid the urgency addiction and focus on what is important the less harried we will be and the more effective we can be.
  1. It is essential to get control over technology and limit its tendency to dominate our time and attention while using its tools to make us more effective. This requires an on-going effort and focus but pays off greatly and gives us more time for important work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

Copyright holder: 2015 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month: February 2015 

Buy the book here:


Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Become More to Achieve More

“Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got”. – Jim Rohn

The late Jim Rohn was an inspiration to many. After a successful business career he became a very successful motivational speaker, trainer and author. He presented personal development seminars world-wide for over 40 years.

Rohn’s primary teaching was that what we are defines in large part what we have. To attain greater wealth and happiness we must become more. Rohn taught that it was not so important what you get but what you become. What you become enables you to get what you want. This fundamental idea is more important today than ever because we live in a world that is increasingly competitive and rapidly changing.

Successful people as a rule read a lot. They are continuously learning and thereby improving themselves. Warren Buffett, self-made billionaire, reads 600-1000 pages a day and has done so for decades. He devotes 80% of his time to reading and learning. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, reads 50 books a year, or one each week. Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours a day. Elon Musk is an avid reader. Mark Zuckerberg reads two books a month. A study of 1200 wealthy people found they have extensive reading habits. They read not to be entertained but to learn.

According to Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals,” 67% of rich people watch TV for one hour or less per day, while just 23% of poor people keep their TV time under 60 minutes. Corley also found only 6% of the wealthy watch reality shows, while 78% of the poor do.

You do not have to want to be rich to benefit from reading good books and continuing your education. Reading opens all kinds of opportunities. It expands your understanding of the world. Whatever you wish to achieve in life you will get further if you read more.

Read Jim Rohn’s article here.

Learn more about Jim Rohn and his teachings on personal development and creating wealth here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

3 Things That May Improve and Prolong Your Life

At the recent International TED Conference in Vancouver, BC, three key ideas were presented that can give greater meaning to life and perhaps extend it as well.

  1. Face-to-Face Social Interaction Leads to a Longer Life

Psychologist Susan Pinker has discovered from research that improving human connections have the largest single effect on our well-being and our health.  She has written a book about it called The Village Effect.

  1. Knowing When to Turn Off Your Smartphone Enriches Your Life

Professor of marketing and psychology Adam Alter spoke at the Vancouver TED talk and described the benefits to regularly disconnecting – turning the smart phone off and even deleting all emails received when it is off. He has studied the effects screen time has on our lives. He found that the more people are glued to their phones and other devices the less happy they are.

  1. Chasing meaning, not happiness, is what really matters

In The Power of Meaning Emily Esfahani Smith describes how happiness comes from attaining a sense of meaning. Prioritizing people in your life who you truly love is the first important aspect of meaning. The second aspect is having purpose in life. Purpose is our way of adding value or contributing. We can find this purpose in our work and also in volunteer activities.

There is nothing truly new about these ideas. They have long been known but often forgotten or never discovered. You can hear these presentations by simply entering the author’s names in YouTube for TED talks. To dig more deeply into these ideas you can read the books. Click on the titles to order the books.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Reinvention by Brian Tracy

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month Review

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy (Nov 2014)

Title and Author:  Reinvention by Brian Tracy 

Synopsis of Content:

In Reinvention Tracy asks us to reevaluate ourselves, where we are and where we are going. His premise is that the world is changing rapidly and our ability to change and adapt to that changing world is key to success.

He invites us to examine who we are and what we want. He asks us to evaluate what we are worth in the marketplace. He follows this with a chapter on how to get a job which is actually a repeat of some of his previous work.

He wraps up with tips on how to get ahead, how to get the most out of yourself and some steps on how to reinvent yourself.

This book is very change-oriented. Much of what is written is covered in many of Tracy’s previous books so you will not find a lot of new material here. What makes this book different is the focus – it is focused on making changes in yourself to achieve what you want to achieve.

What I found useful about this book:

It is the future oriented and self-directed nature of the book that is most attractive and makes it motivational. If you need a kick in the pants to start making positive changes in your life and move from where you are to where you want to be this book provides some good insight and motivation.

What I did not like about this book:

I wish there was more new material in the book. Most of its content is repeated from past books by Tracy. There is nothing fundamentally new here and if you have read most of his other books you will find that disappointing. If you have not read his past work it will be fresh and inspiring.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

As with all his books Tracy writes well here. It is clear and well organized though the chapter on getting a job seems out of place.

Notes on Author:

Brian Tracy is a renowned personal improvement author and trainer. He is prolific having authored dozens of books and many audio and video programs.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. To reinvent yourself you must take a careful inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, determine where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and then take action to achieve it.
  1. A major characteristic of successful people is that they are very future oriented. They spend a lot more time thinking about the future than the past.
  1. How successful you are is determined mostly by how you think. Thinking positively and in a future oriented manner leads to greater success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Reinvention by Brian Tracy

Copyright holder: 2009 Brian Tracy

Publisher: American Management Association

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Humility is a Choice

“HUMILITY IS A CHOICE. When you meet a humble person you know you will be accepted, respected and listened to. They won’t try to manipulate you, control you, criticize you or try to impress you. They are safe.

“When we haven’t conquered our pride putting on false humility might seem like the shortcut to the benefits of being a truly humble person. We’ve all met these kinds of people. False humility is nothing but arrogance.” (Leading Blog, April 28, 2017)

Genuine humility is important as a leadership attribute. Nothing alienates others more quickly than arrogance. But false humility is also alienating and can be viewed as a form or arrogance. Pat Williams, author and senior VP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic writes about false humility and genuine humility in his book, Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success. He identifies four ways to avoid false humility:

  1. Reflect on the kind of person you are and be the person you want to be.
  2. Ask a few trusted friends to be brutally honest with you.
  3. Immediately and humbly admit your faults and failures.
  4. Be honestly humble and humbly honest.

We all have egos and it can be difficult at times to tame those egos and be genuinely humble. Yet it is a powerful quality that we can all benefit from cultivating.

Read the entire blog post here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.

Top Performance by Zig Ziglar

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Top Performance by Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar was the bestselling author of a number of great books on success and sales. He has been featured on numerous TV shows and was a gifted public speaker. He was both informative and inspirational.

In Top Performance, published in1986, Ziglar combines the things he had learned in decades of work in the business world to provide a blueprint for just what the title suggests – top performance. It is about getting the most out of yourself and others in your organization. It is about optimum performance.

The book is divided into three parts: The Art of Top Performance, The Science of Top Performance and Motivating Top Performance.

The entire book is largely based on Ziglar’s key axiom, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. This approach began as his sales theory. Selling things to people is difficult at best. But helping people is much easier and they are much more receptive to being helped. In fact they will more often willingly pay for being helped.

The first part of the book concentrates on the focus of emotional thoughts to enable one to perform at one’s best. It is about your personal choice to be a top performer, causing others to want your leadership, expecting the best and thereby inspiring the best, looking for the good and finding it, etc.

The second part is about the importance of effective communications, how to build genuine morale and positive contributions, rewarding and motivating others, and other management gems.

The third section concentrates on Ziglar’s unique approach to motivating people through education and the key to action as the source of performance measurement.

For each section he develops a simple formula that is easy to remember and keys one in to the more detailed information set out in each chapter. At the end of the chapters he wraps up with a list of key principles which summarize what you should learn from the chapter.

This approach is easy to read, easy to understand and remember. It is a great study aid. For those of you who are wise enough to return to good books and study them further than the first read, this books I organized in a way that promotes that kind of study.

Top Performance is full of anecdotal examples to illustrate the basic principles he introduces you to. It is full of great quotes from many famous and not so famous sources. It is full of tools, like the Seven Step Goal Setting Formula on page 154. It is full of these gems that warrant a second and third review.

Anyone serious about building a library of truly good classic books on success and personal development should have a copy of Top Performance on their shelf. You can get them in paperback and used for a very modest price.

About the Author:

Zig Ziglar, 1926-2012, was an accomplished salesman, businessman, trainer, writer and public speaker.


Over all this is a very good book and very useful. I recommend it.

©1986 by Zig Ziglar

Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin)

This review originally published in October 2014.

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.